The best books about Australia

The Books I Picked & Why

Horizon Fever II: Explorer A E Filby's own account of his extraordinary Australasian Adventures, 1921-1931

By A. E. Filby

Horizon Fever II: Explorer A E Filby's own account of his extraordinary Australasian Adventures, 1921-1931

Why this book?

Even before Archibald Edmund Filby embarked on his famous African expeditions, he took advantage of a government-sponsored scheme to migrate to Australia. It was 1921 and his daredevil nature soon had him performing reckless feats as a buckjumper in a popular circus rodeo. Whilst trekking through this vast continent, he embraced the opportunity to become a jockey, photographer, actor, pilot, car salesman, and pearl diver.

Not only was A E Filby a famous British explorer, but he was also my Uncle Archie. What a shame he never saw his memoirs published before his death in 1942.


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Caravan Parks Australia Wide 5: Australia's favourite, most complete and easy to use Caravan Park Guide

By Michelle Gilmore, Heatley Gilmore

Caravan Parks Australia Wide 5: Australia's favourite, most complete and easy to use Caravan Park Guide

Why this book?

One of the best ways to explore the fabulous, vast country of Australia is with a caravan or RV. I know, because we have a 26-year-old caravan and that has allowed us to see parts of Australia that have blown our socks off. When we discovered this book, it opened up a treasure trove of opportunities that made my mouth water. We put it to the test and have never looked back.

Every caravan park is listed and verified with contact details, amenties, and other essential information. We travel with our dog so we need to know which sites are pet-friendly. I really do recommend this book as a must-have travelling companion.


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In a Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country

Why this book?

I adore Australia and was looking forward to reading this highly acclaimed book. I certainly wasn’t disappointed although it might be better-titled Everything in Australia Wants to Kill You. I live in Australia. I knew about the sharks, box jellyfish, heat, and lethal currents. I knew about the spiders and snakes. But I’d never heard of the seashell that actually chases you.

I was given a second-hand edition of this travelogue. Somebody had scribbled in the margins “eek!” and “yikes” which gave me yet another dimension to my reading. This book is funny and engaging with just an edge of snarkiness and is often so accurate you won’t need to visit the place yourself.


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The Magic Pudding: The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum

By Norman Lindsay

The Magic Pudding: The Adventures of Bunyip Bluegum

Why this book?

When I was a little girl, I remember being given this book, and I loved it. I read it from cover to cover, again and again, which fired my fascination for Australia. Seriously, who wouldn’t be enthralled by a bad-tempered pudding with impossibly skinny arms and legs, called Albert?

Perhaps The Magic Pudding had a large part in my choice to leave Europe and put down roots in the fabulous country of Australia. The book was first published in 1918 but that just proves how well it has stood the test of time.


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1788: The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet: The Biggest Single Overseas Migration the World Had Ever Seen

By David Hill

1788: The Brutal Truth of the First Fleet: The Biggest Single Overseas Migration the World Had Ever Seen

Why this book?

David Hill’s research is incredible and results in a mind-blowing account of how not only convicts, but their guards and sailors, would colonise Australia, enduring the most brutal hardships. The transportation is described, and it is a miracle that anyone ever reached the destination in the leaky, unseaworthy ships. The enterprise was poorly-planned and underfunded, resulting in appalling suffering.

With such a shocking start, it is a wonder that Australia ever developed into the wonderful, successful country that it is now.


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